TORONTO— “It was just divine. There are no words that can describe it. It was absolutely breathtaking. It was inspiring. It was transcendent.”
This is just some of the praise professional soprano Rebecca Spour had for the Shen Yun Symphony Orchestra’s performance at Roy Thomson Hall on Oct. 23.
Among the pieces showcased in the orchestra’s new program are Western classics as well as original works from the 2016 tour of Shen Yun Performing Arts.
“They were all magnificent,” Ms. Spour said of the various pieces played by the orchestra, which blends the spirit of Chinese music with the grandeur of a Western orchestra.
“There was one piece where the French horns came in—I used to be a French horn player so I listened very closely—and the rhythmic section took over and there was a standing ovation. Everyone stood up and it was dynamic. … It was just so powerful. … It was just wonderful. The rhythm was so strong.”
She also praised conductor Milen Nachev and soprano Haolan Geng.
“The soprano was fantastic,” she said. “She was beautiful as well, and a really, really strong diaphragm. She was very strong. … She’s very technically on point, which is fantastic. She has wonderful breath control, wonderful range as well, very centre of the pitch. She’s really in the centre of the pitch which is important and I really enjoyed it.”
As for the conductor, Ms. Spour noted that “The strings were so rhythmically succinct and that was just wonderful. All the cues with the conductor—he was also fabulous. It was just wonderful all around.”
The combination of Western and Chinese instruments had a calming effect on Ms. Spour.
“It’s really just a calm feeling inside. You just pause for a moment and really connect to the music, connect on an enlightened level. You’re just very inside of the music. You stop thinking and you just feel it. It’s beautiful,” she said.
“When you just escape your mind for a moment and you have an experience with the sound, you stop thinking. Sometimes we’re always thinking but when you’re really inside of the piece you can just identify all of the emotion, and all of the heavens … it’s like a spiritual experience. It was really beautiful.”
Ms. Spour also writes for the Toronto Waterfront Magazine, which covers local issues and events in the waterfront and downtown areas.
Three Standing Ovations
The concert ended with three standing ovations, three encores, and two curtain calls, something that surprised oboe player Elizabeth Raum.
“I was blown away by the audience reaction. I don’t think I’ve ever seen three standing ovations. That was incredible,” she said.
Ms. Raum said she very much enjoyed the oboe section, and also the piece by Czech composer Antonín Dvořák.
“I don’t think I’ve ever heard it more excitedly played,” she said.
“And of course the soloists were wonderful, they were just wonderful. And the erhu and the pipa, it’s very interesting how they blend with the orchestra, with the Western-style orchestra that way.”
Violinist Fiona Zheng also came in for praise. She played “Introduction and Rondo Capriccioso” by Camille Saint-Saëns, a piece widely regarded as a hallmark of violin virtuosity, according to the program book.
“She’s wonderful. My daughter’s a violinist, a concert violinist, and I know that piece very well. Fiona played it beautifully,” she said.
“I think [the audience] liked everything and her playing. Her playing was beautiful, I love that piece. Rondo Capriccioso is a showpiece for the violin.”
Ms. Raum once composed a piece for the erhu, so she particularly appreciated “Delicate Dance,” a piece by the three erhus in the orchestra. Though it has only two strings, the instrument is able to convey a wide range of emotions.
“It was wonderful. I don’t know how they stayed together so perfectly,” she said.
Reporting by NTD Television and Joan Delaney
New York-based Shen Yun Symphony Orchestra comprises musicians from the four Shen Yun Performing Arts touring companies. For information about the October performances, visit: ShenYun.com/Symphony
The Epoch Times considers Shen Yun Performing Arts the significant cultural event of our time and has covered audience reactions since the company’s inception in 2006.